It was hard to tell who was having a better time as 16 Hilliard Division of Police officers helped 12 elementary-age Hilliard students select $300 worth of toys during Shop with a Cop on Dec. 17 at the Target store on Trueman Boulevard.

It was hard to tell who was having a better time as 16 Hilliard Division of Police officers helped 12 elementary-age Hilliard students select $300 worth of toys during Shop with a Cop on Dec. 17 at the Target store on Trueman Boulevard.

"I love this. It's the best thing ever and I've looked forward to it (all year)," said Officer Josh Barnett, who helped 6-year-old Haley Breeden choose toys and a few gifts for her family members.

Officer Trevor Gill made time for the event immediately after his overnight shift ended.

Gill worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and had time for a 20-minute nap before heading out with other officers to pick up children at their residences and take them shopping at Target.

"It's been great. I've wanted to do this for awhile," said Gill, who was participating in his first Shop with a Cop. "It was absolutely worth the missed sleep and I will be signing up again for it next year for sure."

This is the second year that the Hilliard Division of Police has hosted Shop with a Cop at Target.

Last year, 11 children were selected for the program that the Hilliard Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association helps to coordinate.

Each officer was paired with an alumni association member who helped select gifts within each child's $300 budget.

Hilliard police put up $250 for each child and Target donated an additional $50 for each child, Chief Bobby Fisher said.

The police division asked for the names of 12 Hilliard students in kindergarten through third grade who "are good citizens at the school" and deserving of gratitude and recognition, he said.

Building principals provided the names, and then parents or guardians received a surprise call.

"This is so cool, what they do for these kids," said Matt Goodwin, whose son, Cody Kerns, 7, was among the kids selected for Shop with a Cop.

Cody was paired with Officer Austin Vogelsang, and the pair wasted no time finding a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Lego kit.

"I got 'Star Wars' stuff, too," Cody said.

After the shopping spree at Target, the officers and their partners for the day went back to the police station to wrap the presents, watch children's movies and enjoy a pizza party.

"It's our way of helping a few great kids have an even better Christmas," Fisher said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo